SITE specifics

Pasatiempo - - ADVERTISEMENT - Top, ar­chi­tec­tural ren­der­ing of a new in­te­rior space at SITE; bot­tom, blue­print of SITE’s ren­o­va­tions and ad­di­tions © SHoP Ar­chi­tects

SHoP Ar­chi­tects, the firm that de­signed what will be the world’s skin­ni­est sky­scraper — at 111 W. 57th St. in New York — is turn­ing SITE Santa Fe into the cap­i­tal city’s wedgi­est build­ing. Work be­gins in Au­gust on the SITE re­model, adding space and fea­tur­ing a sil­very, can­tilevered “prow” on an ex­panded build­ing front. See a pre­view and a look at SHoP’s other projects around the world in the ex­hi­bi­tion work­shop, on view through May 22 at SITE. On the cover is an ar­chi­tec­tural ren­der­ing of SITE’s en­trance; im­age cour­tesy SHoP Ar­chi­tects.

For nearly four years, SITE Santa Fe’s front fa­cade — de­fined by Los An­ge­les ar­chi­tect Greg Lynn’s white-painted, flower-pe­tal form and two scoop­like pro­jec­tions — has been a mod­estly ar­rest­ing sight. It’s the lat­est in a se­ries of artis­tic treat­ments de­signed to call at­ten­tion to the mu­seum and to pro­voke ex­plo­ration into what’s go­ing on in­side. In the next year and a half, a much more dra­matic en­trance will be con­structed as part of a $6 mil­lion re­model. SITE (1606 Paseo de Per­alta) has en­gaged SHoP Ar­chi­tects, New York, to im­prove the func­tion­al­ity of the mu­seum’s in­te­rior and to de­sign ad­di­tions. Plans by the firm’s Christo­pher Sharples, Ayumi Sugiyama, and Cortez Crosby call for

adding 7,600 square feet to the rear of the build­ing; in this space will also be a 250-seat au­di­to­rium/mul­ti­pur­pose room and breezy mez­za­nine and court­yard spa­ces. A hu­mid­ity-con­trolled gallery will be built into the ex­ist­ing build­ing.

The real drama comes in the project’s exter­ior treat­ment. At the front, an ex­trav­a­gant, wedge-shaped “prow” of tex­tured metal can­tilevers more than 50 feet out from the build­ing. The top is open to the sky. Un­der­neath the prow, peo­ple can see into the tall, glassy face of an ad­di­tion to the front. In­side is a new space with an ex­panded lobby and store, and a cof­fee bar. “You start to imag­ine SITE as a gath­er­ing space,” said Irene Hof­mann, the mu­seum’s Phillips Di­rec­tor and chief cu­ra­tor, “not just a place to come see an ex­hi­bi­tion, but also for peo­ple to gather.”

When SITE an­nounced the project last Oc­to­ber, Hof­mann said the mu­seum staff and board had been work­ing for two years on a plan for sub­stan­tial im­prove­ments to co­in­cide with SITE’s 20th an­niver­sary this year. “First on our list was air con­di­tion­ing. Be­cause of the lack of tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity con­trol, be­sides our dis­com­fort and that of vis­i­tors, there was art­work we were de­nied, and many works we didn’t even try to ob­tain, be­cause they were del­i­cate, they were pa­per, or it was archival ma­te­ri­als. Also, the fact that SITE is al­ways closed in June has al­ways been a chal­lenge. We plan to add an 1,800-square-foot gallery in the front of the build­ing that will al­low us to have year-round ex­hi­bi­tions.”

The con­struc­tion of what Hof­mann called “an iconic en­ve­lope” in­cludes an­other, less em­phatic prow fea­ture over a new en­trance at the rear. The rear ad­di­tion con­tin­ues the line of the build­ing’s south­east fa­cade, but does not ad­vance closer to the ad­ja­cent Rai­l­yard Park. There will be no in­crease in height, ei­ther. “This is a mod­est project, a mod­est bud­get. We’re not tak­ing our build­ing down,” she said.

SITE and SHoP worked within the guide­lines of the Rai­l­yard Master Plan, and the project was ap­proved by the Santa Fe Rai­l­yard Com­mu­nity Cor­po­ra­tion ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign re­view com­mit­tee. Santa Fe ar­chi­tect Greg Al­le­gretti did the con­struc­tion draw­ings. Hof­mann said the project cost is “quite a mod­est price for what we gain: The whole build­ing will look new. In ad­di­tion, our SITE To­mor­row cam­paign has a $10 mil­lion goal, so we’re rais­ing money for the build­ing and for fu­ture op­er­at­ing ex­penses, and for our en­dow­ment.”

Here’s how SHoP de­scribes the fin­ished prod­uct: “The build­ing’s low-slung form es­tab­lishes a di­a­logue with Santa Fe Rai­l­yard Park and sur­round­ing build­ings, while an en­trance court and rear porch, framed by a soar­ing lay­ered and per­fo­rated fa­cade, cre­ate pub­lic gath­er­ing spa­ces and in­vite guests in­side.”

“This is SHoP’s first mu­seum. That is ex­tra­or­di­nary,” Hof­mann said. “It is very lucky for us that we meet up with them at the ex­act mo­ment when we need them and they need us.” She said the SHoP col­lab­o­ra­tion is just the lat­est in “a timeline of SITE Santa Fe work­ing with world-class ar­chi­tects.” The list in­cludes Tod Wil­liams and Bil­lie Tsien, who did the ex­hi­bi­tion de­sign for the Seventh In­ter­na­tional Bi­en­nial: Lucky Num­ber Seven (2008); David Ad­jaye, who de­signed the space for The Dis­solve, the mu­seum’s

Eighth In­ter­na­tional Bi­en­nial (2010); and Lynn’s curved en­try shells fab­ri­cated of cloth and resin for 2012’s More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness.

ShoP Ar­chi­tects, es­tab­lished in 1996, has more than 180 ar­chi­tects, de­sign­ers, and en­gi­neers. “At the heart of the firm’s method,” ac­cord­ing to a mis­sion state­ment, “is a will­ing­ness to ques­tion ac­cepted pat­terns of prac­tice, cou­pled with the courage to ex­pand, where nec­es­sary, be­yond the ar­chi­tect’s tra­di­tional roles.”

The busi­ness is pro­filed in the ex­hi­bi­tion work­SHoP, show­ing through May 22 at SITE Santa Fe. Via mod­els, pho­to­graphs, ren­der­ings, and mov­ing images, work­SHoP pro­files eight projects that re­port­edly in­form the de­sign of SITE’s new build­ing: 475 W. 18th St., New York; Uber Head­quar­ters, San Fran­cisco; LaGuardia Air­port Master Plan, Queens, New York; Botswana In­no­va­tion Hub, Repub­lic of Botswana; 111 W. 57th St., New York; Domino Sugar Re­fin­ery Master Plan, Brook­lyn, New York; Bar­clays Cen­ter, Brook­lyn, New York; and Konza Techno Pav­il­ion, Nairobi, Kenya. Also part of the ex­hi­bi­tion are an im­pres­sive, gauzy model of the SITE en­trance prow, two-thirds scale and made of Tyvek; and a wall-size “su­per graphic” im­age that shows vis­i­tors a fu­ture view, look­ing out at the front prow from the lobby.

The de­ci­sion to make use of the “un­der­taxed tri­an­gle” at the front of SITE Santa Fe was im­por­tant for Sharples, the SHoP part­ner in charge; and Sugiyama, project man­ager and lead de­signer for the firm’s Bar­clays Cen­ter Arena at 626 First Ave. in Brook­lyn, along with the SITE Santa Fe ex­pan­sion. Dur­ing a March 18 in­ter­view at SITE, SHoP as­so­ciate Crosby said, “I re­mem­ber on our first trip, Chris Sharples thought of re­ally cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the un­usual shape of the ap­proach from the in­ter­sec­tion.” The idea is for the open prow to be wel­com­ing, used for café over­flow, as a place to ex­hibit sculp­ture, and as a gath­er­ing space.

The metal ma­te­rial form­ing the prows at both ends of the build­ing (once a beer ware­house) ex­tends some dis­tance along the side walls, ter­mi­nat­ing at acute an­gles — the metal forms thus ap­pear as dy­nam­i­cally pointed par­al­lel­o­grams. Be­tween them, the wall is fin­ished in a gray stucco. The cladding ma­te­rial it­self is a com­plex sand­wich of per­fo­rated alu­minum sheets. The de­signs cre­ated by their edges were in­spired by pat­terns in Na­tive Amer­i­can pot­tery and rugs. The pan­els are at­tached to one an­other at vary­ing depths, cre­at­ing an­other de­sign layer in their shad­ows. And when you walk or drive by, the per­fo­ra­tions in the pan­els shift align­ment, which yields a rip­pling “moiré” vis­ual in­ter­fer­ence ef­fect.

“This is a great op­por­tu­nity in this Rai­l­yard area — that they’re al­low­ing for dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als,” Sugiyama said dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about al­low­able build­ing types in the city’s his­toric district and in the Rai­l­yard. “In terms of the con­cept for this cladding, we ba­si­cally ex­truded, straight-up, a rhom­boidal grid that you can pic­ture as an egg crate, then we just carved away at the fa­cade. The an­gles of the facets is what cre­ates the geo­met­ric pat­tern.” The ar­chi­tects at SHoP use com­puter-aided de­sign soft­ware to ex­per­i­ment with build­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties. Crosby said they use Grasshop­per, a vis­ual-pro­gram­minglan­guage plugin for the Rhi­noc­eros CAD pro­gram. They are able to out­put mod­els such as those in the work­SHoP ex­hibit with a large 3-D printer and smaller Mak­erBots.

Sugiyama said the “tec­ton­ics” of the metal cladding re­late to the hon­esty of ma­te­ri­als in the old rail­road yards. “You can see the bolts ex­posed, so you can un­der­stand the way it’s put to­gether. We do have in­te­gral light­ing in the cladding, but you don’t see the source. It will glow.”

“We’re very ex­cited about that,” Crosby added, “be­cause our ini­tial ap­proach was up­light­ing, to sort of wash the exter­ior, but that would have been much more in­tense.”

Ground­break­ing on the rear por­tion of the re­model is set to be­gin in Au­gust. The bi­en­nial SITE­lines 2016 opens in July and comes down in Jan­uary; at that point, the build­ing closes for con­struc­tion of the front ad­di­tion and prow. The new mu­seum should be com­plete in the fall of 2017.

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